What can we do to prevent FGM and help those affected by it?

If you are worried that a child may be at risk of FGM or undergone FGM follow these steps:

Child is at risk of FGM or Child has had FGM - Refer to Children’s Social Care 020 8871 6622 or 020 8871 6000 (after hours) Call local police 101

Child is at immediate risk of FGM - Call 999 or call local police 101

All calls can be anonymous

For professionals: if you would like to discuss potential risk or presence of FGM and actions to take please contact your Safeguarding Lead and follow your Child Protection Guidelines

For the community: You can make an anonymous call to our free 24-hour FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550 or email fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk.

We can give advice, information and support for anyone concerned that a child's welfare is at risk as well as make a referral on your behalf to the relevant statutory body, where appropriate. Though callers' details can remain anonymous, any information that could protect a child from abuse will be passed to the police or social services.

FGM can happen within families who do not see it as abuse. However, FGM is a criminal act which causes severe physical and mental harm to victims both in the short and long term and for this reason it cannot be condoned or excused. The safety and welfare of the child at risk is paramount and professionals should not be deterred from protecting vulnerable girls by fears of being branded 'racist' or 'discriminatory' (HM Government, 2011).

Professionals need to provide families with culturally competent advice and information on FGM which makes it clear that the practice is illegal. Community and faith leaders can be helpful in facilitating this work with families. This may be enough to stop families practicing FGM and protect girls from harm (HM Government, 2011).

If a local authority has reason to believe a child is likely to suffer or has suffered FGM it can exercise its powers to apply to the courts for orders to prevent the child being taken abroad for mutilation. The primary objective of any intervention is to prevent the child from undergoing FGM rather than removing her from her family. If a child has already undergone FGM she should be offered medical help and counselling, and action should be taken to protect any female siblings at risk (London Safeguarding Children Board, 2009).

You can also contact FGM support services